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WA04728 – WKP decision to withdraw CPN and PCC involvement

Request Received: 24 May 2024

Responded: 28 May 2024

Q. What are the reasons for the CPN being withdrawn and how was this decision reached?

A. This information is not held.

Q. Who was responsible for making this decision and who has signed the protocol?

A. This information is not held.

Q. What part did Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe play in this process?

A. The Police and Crime Commissioner has not been involved in this matter.

Q. How have the police ensured there is no conflict of interest with Philip Seccombe who has openly admitted he is a member of the Countryside Alliance?

A: The Police and Crime Commissioner has not been involved in this matter. For clarity, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and Warwickshire Police are two separate and independent organisations. The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is a directly elected representative of the communities of Warwickshire, whereas legislation protects the independence of Warwickshire Police, which is under the direction and control of its Chief Constable. Whilst a key aspect of the role of the PCC includes funding Warwickshire Police and holding the Chief Constable to account, legislation protects the operational independence of the force by making it clear that the Chief Constable retains direction and control of its officers and staff. Consequently, at all times the PCC must refrain from interfering with that independence to ensure that the operations of the police will not be politicised and decisions about responding to incidents, making arrests and carrying out investigations, do not become political ones. For this reason, the PCC has not had no involvement with the removal of the CPN.

Q. Were representatives from the Countryside Alliance in attendance at any of the meetings (including Philip Seccombe)?

A. Philip Seccombe was not present at any meetings. No information is held of Countryside Alliance representatives’ attendance at meetings.

Q. When will the protocol be made public and where can it be accessed?

A: Warwickshire Police have applied an exemption in respect of S32 of the Freedom of Information Act. Warwickshire Police have made a statement publicly, stating ‘The “Protocol” was drawn up as a settlement agreement for the purposes of settling the litigation – therefore it is not disclosable under Freedom of Information legislation, being exempt under s32 – Court Records.

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section 1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held. The second duty at Section 1(1)(b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held.

When refusing to provide such information, because the information is exempt, Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires Warwickshire Police to provide you, the applicant with a notice which:

(a) States that fact

(b) Specifies the exemption(s) in question and

(c) States (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption(s) applies.

I can confirm that Warwickshire Police do hold the requested information; however, it is being withheld from disclosure by virtue of the following exemption:

Section 32 – Court records

Specifically, Section 32(1)(b) – Information held by a public authority is exempt information if it is held only by virtue of being contained in any document served upon, or by, a public authority for the purposes of proceedings in a particular cause or matter.

Section 32 is an absolute class-based exemption, therefore there is no requirement to provide evidence of harm or consider the public interest test.

In this case, the exemption is engaged as the details of the protocol exist only by virtue of being created to resolve litigation proceedings of which Warwickshire Police were a party and serves as a refusal notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Q. What are the reasons for the protocol not being made public?

A. See response to Q6.

Q. Were the rural crime team party to the decision to withdraw the CPN and have they signed off on the Protocol?

A. This information is not held.

Q. Who will be policing the protocol and how will you ensure that the requirements are being met?

A. This information is not held.

Q. What are the ramifications if/when the requirements are breached?

A. This information not held.